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NJ Gov. Chris Christie (courtesy

TTAG reader AM writes:

CNN reports that New Jersey Governor Chris Christie [above] has pardoned a Unite States Marine for gun possession. “Sgt. Joshua Velez, a Massachusetts resident who works as recruiter in New England — including in the first-in-the-nation primary state — was arrested over Labor Day weekend after a traffic stop in the Garden State turned up an unloaded handgun in his vehicle’s glove compartment.” I guess this is supposed to make me believe that this makes him (Christie) a viable candidate for president. Yes, well . . .

This Marine had an unloaded Ruger 9mm handgun in the glove compartment (locked) of his car (why the hell was it unloaded?). Sgt. Velez was also in possession of those deadly “hollow point bullets” while driving to visit relatives in NJ. He faced five to 10 years in jail, with a mandatory period of parole ineligibility of 42 months.

Sgt. Velez has or had a license to carry in Massachusetts (I hope he is still able to) and informed the police of the gun and license – not realizing that there is no reciprocity in NJ for carrying. So at a simple traffic stop (failure to signal at a turn) that would have normally only resulted in at most a ticket, Sgt. Velez is now in possession of not his weapon but a criminal record.

Why isn’t Christie screaming about repealing these laws that abuse the rights of New Jersey residents and visitors to his state? This would lend more credence to his supposedly change of heart regarding the support given by him for banning “assault weapons.” But this would mean he actually supports gun rights, which I don’t think he does.

Christie has, on the campaign trail, vowed to pardon out-of-state residents caught up in the hell of a NJ weapons violation charge. It’s a clear political ploy to either get the support of gun supporters or at least ease their vitriol aimed at him with no mention of the rights of his own constituents.

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      • So you should tell an officer of the law that you are breaking the law, and subsequently face the excessive penalties imposed by a law that should never exist in the first place?

        • Not sure I fully understand your question. IF a state law requires you to accurately respond to the question, “Are you licensed to carry a weapon; is that weapon present?”, courts have held that you must answer accurately. If the state does not permit transporting a weapon in your car, and you are doing so, you are violating the law whether you are stopped or questioned about it. If that state requires you to accurately declare, then you must declare and accept the result, or deny and accept the result, or refuse to answer and accept the result. Whether a law is “legitimate” or not, until it is overturned that law controls. There is no “get out of jail free” declaration of a higher law at the time of the question about whether or not you possess a firearm. And I think the lawyers here will agree there is no appeal to higher law at trial (maybe on appeal, but not at trial). Local courts will enforce the local laws.

        • @Asux,
          If Christie had not pardoned this marine, he would have spent a long time in jail.

          If I were stopped in NJ I wouldn’t tell either.

          Also, if the marine had not told the officer he was in possession of a firearm, the officer would have not had any probable cause or reasonable suspicion to even search his vehicle.

          If the officer had no reasonable suspicion to search the car and did it anyway, the gun would have
          been discovered by an illegal search.
          Would this hold up in court?
          By a Jury?

          Juries determine the higher law not Legislators.
          “Fully informed” Juries have the power of Nullification.

          Aside from that, if the marine had not the told the officer and the officer still did an illegal search and the marine went to jail, he would not have spent any more time than if he had told the officer.

          So no, I would not tell an officer in NJ because I know he would have had no probable cause to search my car in the first place for a mere traffic violation.

        • Please review. My comments were based on things I admitted not knowing…ALL the details of the “stop”, and the NJ law regarding what is required when faced with certain questions from police. Everything about those comments were based on IF. As to superior law, juries have nullification poser, but the rarity of use (uhmmmm, like when did it ever happen?) makes reliance on nullification a fariy tale. Point being that in human court, only human laws pertain. And if you don’t like that, be prepared to support your local Muslim who commits a crime that is believed to be required action according to the law of Allah.

          Objecting to unreasonable and/or unconstitutional law is just fine, but claiming somehow a higher law makes one immune from compliance or prosecution is a dangerous path to recommend (not to mention nothing on this blog is really anonymous). People who cling to the notion that claiming benefit of higher law gives them standing superior to written human law are destined for disaster for themselves, and those who foolishly align with them. NJ has bad laws; agreed. Do we want Christie to engage only in executive orders that do the things we like? How do we (NJ) ensure only orders we like are promulgated?

          As to self-incrimination, if TSA asks if you packed your own bags, and you didn’t but said you did, and it turns out to be a problem, you will not only be charged with the problem but also with making a false statement. So try stating that you claim your 5th amendment protection against self-incrimination; see how many times you get on an airplane after that.

          The law is a ass (to quote someone historically important), but it is the law until changed or overturned. Thumping one’s chest and proclaiming, “Not me !” is mere unsupported bravado, but perhaps sadly influential to some others who also lack a complete grasp of reality.

        • First , FCC. I’d almost like a number sticker of that but he doesn’t deserve the space. Glad he pardoned him, but he is still a FSSoC.

          Second, no, that would be self incrimination so you aren’t required to answer in the event you are. NFA and GCA were nearly overturned by that fact until the wording got changed to exclude criminals.

          So those states with those laws are likely all worded that “license holders” have to tell. Criminals of course do not. Which that marine got turned into by Jersey’s “laws.”

      • Assuming no probable cause to search the vehicle, and no warrant either, why would you volunteer that you had a weapon? How much more severe than the stupid penalty for having the weapon at all can it be to be caught with it and not having admitted to possession in the first place?

        Per the Constitution of the United States of America (Fifth Amendment) and the SCOTUS, you are NOT required to incriminate yourself, which I would believe admitting to carrying or possessing that handgun in New Jersey would amount to. STFU. If the cop asks you specifically (why would he?), invoke your 5th Amendment right to STFU. Unless the cop decides to be a hard-ass and tune you up there on the street for giving him a hard time, how much worse could it possibly be?

        Oh, and stay out of New Jersey.

        Chooz Cruz.

  1. Wow even here in Australia I can visit or transit through any state on way to hunting range etc without any problems.
    If you stay somewhere more than three months you need to apply for local licence in some states

  2. I’d guess he figures that appealing to gun owners from other states where gun owners are a lot more common and influential is a heckuva lot more productive than appealing to gun owners in NJ who apparently are not all that common and not politically influential. He probably doesn’t give a hoot one way or the other about guns himself. But he’s in the party that nationally “officially” supports gun rights, so he has to make some efforts in that regard if he has any national ambitions.

  3. Of course its bull crap his sudden change.
    His excuse is he doesn’t run or control the state legislature.
    With a signature he could end all of the BS with the out of state folks caught up in NJ bs,,,,If he wanted to.
    Lets see what happens next to that North Carolina lineman who was also arrested for voluntarily telling a cop he had a loaded gun in his work truck. While helping the NJ residents get their power back after a storm. Do a good deed in NJ get tossed in jail.

    • It would be nice if all military, para-military and utility workers refused to go to New Jersey. Perhaps that might make an impression the next emergency in New Jersey.

  4. “Why isn’t Christie screaming about repealing these laws that abuse the rights of New Jersey residents and visitors to his state?”

    He could just do it Obama style and EO the laws out of existence. Poof.

    • He won’t, because he’s only putting on a show. The pardons will stop once his campaign ends. Christie is trying to appeal to voters outside of NJ who don’t know him. He’s trying to do something to make him look good on gun issues, while at the same time he keeps the status quo unchanged for NJ residents. He’s an awful guy, typical career politician who would be worse than the last couple of presidents we’ve had. It’s beyond me why this isn’t obvious to more people. I really don’t understand why he went up in the polls. In NH no less. I think Jim Webb is more conservative than Christie.

  5. Christie should drop out, if only because his numbers are so low. His record on gun control is simply one more problem he has to overcome.

  6. I’m really surprised he thinks he has the slightest chance at being the candidate. He is much more anti-gun than most democrats and I don’t get how he thinks he can fool people. I think a lot of people would literally quit their jobs and devote their lives to making sure he didn’t make it if there was the slightest chance for him.

  7. There is a positive to most things. Yes it may be too little too late, but it does bring the issue to light giving it national exposure while mitigating a wrong. Lack of national reciprocity for permitted concealed carriers is idiotic. There is no rational reason to invalidate carry permits between states.

    I’m in Washington State and hold carry permits for Washington, Arizona. I can carry in many states although not in the North East or in neighboring state Oregon or California. Practically speaking, should I drive into Oregon, I have to stop, unload my weapon and lock it away. That’s ignorant.

    A well-known fact is that holders of a carry permit are many times less likely to commit a crime, even less than that of police officers. There is no rationality for prohibiting carry permits between states. None!

  8. There’s only a month or so left for politically sympathetic out-of-staters to get caught with guns in Jersey. Once Christie’s hilariously pathetic presidential campaign is over (and it can’t possibly last past the first primary), he won’t have to pretend to care about anybody’s rights anymore.

  9. Gun rights could not have a bigger supporter than Chris Christie. When it comes to standing up for us, he’s enormous. In fact, it would be impossible to underestimate how far he has progressed on this issue. I’m completely in favor of Christie for ex-Governor in a landfill. I mean landslide.

  10. But this would mean he actually supports gun rights, which I don’t think he does.
    I do not think so either, but I do not think he will do very well in the actual primaries.

    • This would mean he is a politician, and in order to remove my gun rights, he first must get hisself elected, therefor it is advisable to lie. Any questions? He can order the police to cease enforcing this stupid and unconstitutional law, and if they continue call a press conference to pardon each and every person (instate or out) so charged. But he won’t, because he’s a Dem.

  11. “It’s a clear political ploy to either get the support of gun supporters or at least ease their vitriol aimed at him with no mention of the rights of his own constituents.”

    Well, the point is, elected officials don’t have to be angels, angels being in such short supply. Rather, they merely need to be responsive to the citizens, through the officials’ own self-interest. They wanna get or keep the job, they need to appeal to enough of us proles, regardless of the polit-critters’ personal preferences or opinions.

    I’d far rather appeal to their cynical ambition, than their ethics. Sadly, we’ve done quite a poor job of even that in the “liberal democracies” for quite a while.

    So, governor Christie has demonstrated that he’s trainable, and responsive to incentives. That’s progress.

  12. Just another proof that what used to be a Constitution is just a museum piece. Not even sure if the museum piece is real, anymore.

  13. At best, it’s yet another cynical election season ploy to resuscitate his flat line support among 2A proponents who comprise an outsized share of the GOP nominating electorate. At worst, it’s another example of arbitrary, capricious, rule-by-fiat typical of modern constitution-loathing politicians.

    Either way, I wouldn’t vote for this guy for Dog Catcher or any other office more consequential.

  14. Lock your glove compartment people. I know you want quick access, but cops can only search unlocked, arms-reach containers.

    And if the ask, the answer is always no.

      • In NJ, is “consent” required when the search ensues from a traffic stop (cop sighted one law violation, and now is looking for weapons, contraband)? In NJ, once you declare you have a firearm in the car, is “consent” required? In NJ, once you declare you have a concealed carry permit, is “consent” required? In NJ, if a cops asks if you have a gun, and you answer yes, is “consent” required before a cop can search to find it (asking you to produce the gun may be considered unreasonable risk to the cop)?

        I do not know the full details of the stop, nor the relevant NJ laws.

  15. I find the contrast between so many people complaining about Obama’s “invalid” EO’s, and so many people complaining that Christie won’t just EO duly enacted legislation out of existence, to be a bit disconcerting. It also appears that in this pretty much overwhelmingly individual-rights, rule-of-law, separation-of-powers, checks-and-balances forum, a lot of folks have a pretty elevated idea of just how much power a state governor has and should exercise. There’s a lot not to like about Christie, but not overreaching and abusing the powers of his office should not be one of them IMO. And before anybody decides that I’m just a Christie fanboy, read my first post in this thread.

    • Using an EO to formulate out of whole cloth an unconstitutional law is not the same thing as using an EO to invalidate an unconstitutional law.

      • Yes, it is the same. “Doing good” is too subjective. When used beyond implementing legislation, EOs are usurpation, period. Or maybe Obama was right, “We can’t let the law (constitution?) get in the way of doing the right thing.”

        Who is the final arbiter of “Doing good”?

  16. Aw, c’mon…what’s a little political theatre between a governor and people he wants to fool about his actual stances on issues?


  17. Doesn’t a NJ cop know if your are an out of state ccp holder before he walks up to your car? I believe they have access to that info from running your plate. Please correct me if I’m wrong.

    • I was told that if a person has a NJ FOID, it won’t show up during a traffic stop. I’m not sure about a permit to carry. I guess they could get that info if they really wanted to, but they probably won’t know unless you tell them. I’m guessing the driver opened the glove box to get his insurance and registration, and that’s where the gun was. Either the cop saw it or the guy told him about it. And since NJ doesn’t honor any out of state permits, things went from bad to worse.

      Of course Christie realized he can score some political points with voters by pardoning the guy. But he’s not doing anything to change that stupid law, nor is he changing any other NJ gun laws. He had many years to show his support for the 2A and the gun owners. He never really did anything. And all of a sudden now he’s pardoning these guys and claims to be this pro gun guy? What a joke he is. But what’s worse is that people eat this up. It’s all political theater and pandering. Nothing more.

  18. He probably had the weapon stored in the same location as his vehicle registration and insurance credentials. If that was the case, informing that he possessed the weapon and its location was probably a good move at the time to avoid getting shot by a nervous police officer. A good reason to never keep your weapon the same place you keep these documents.

    • Yeah, I learned that one in 1980 when a cop took exception to the speed I was driving, and as I reached for the glove box I suddenly hesitated. He asked what was wrong and I confessed there was a gun in it. He told me to go ahead, so I moved the Python and produced the paperwork. Other than a speeding ticket, no harm done, but never again, I really felt stupid! I was lucky I was in TX at the time, although I didn’t know it the TX constitution allows open or concealed carry while travelling, and I was en route from Austin to VA at the time, hundreds of miles from home, so I was obviously “travelling” (the definition is a constant source of argument).

  19. Good thing for this guy that Christie’s running for president. He’d have been left to rot otherwise. This is just a cynical ploy to gain votes.


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